Come with me, away from the frantic crowds and glaring heat of St Marks Square, into the cool silky back waters of Venice. Ribbons of satin light dance to the stirring of distant oars, reflecting straight lines of buildings into artful wobbles. The light is warm and soft, soaking into ancient layers of paint, peeling languidly away from watery walls.
Ridiculously romantic balconies hang over the winding passages of stone and water, promising whispers of love and heartache to all below. Windows which could be flung open at a moments notice to reveal ancient shadows of floating gowns and drifting hair, drip leaves and shadows across our path. Everything begs us to slow down, to soak in the colour, the sounds and the shimmering light.
Passages twist and turn with surprising suddenness, tumbling us into arched reflections, and choices. Will we cross the steep humped back of the bridge, will we step down towards the water and a waiting boat, or will we turn the corner and follow the stone lined edge of the canal. Each choice offers exquisite beauty and yet more surprises. Each turn of a corner leads us deeper and deeper into the crumbling labyrinth which is the inner heart of Venice, slowly and seductively peeling away our sense of direction, until we are utterly and delightfully lost.
Turning away from the curling winding canals seems to offer the promise of straight streets and logic, yet no sooner are we moving with certainty than the buildings seem to rise higher, crowding out the sky and the light on all sides. Streets end with dramatic right angles, forcing another unwanted change of direction, and Venice moves us deeper into her past. These peeling walls have echoed to the steps of thousands of years of history, and have felt the surge and fall of every human emotion. Blood has been spilled across these stones to settle lovers feuds at sword point, gold has been spilled in the heady mix of greed and desire, and poison has swirled hidden beneath plotting cloaks of power. The stories these bricks and cobbles could tell would fill a lifetime of reading.
Mystery, intrigue and romance fill the air, seeping through our damp skin into our hearts and minds, filling our heads with questions and delighting our eyes. The watery canal suddenly seems to offer certainty, a route out to somewhere, and we cross a bridge of light over its green silk depths.
As we follow the water it’s passage widens out, and soft fading sunlight washes the buildings, bringing brightness and space and colour. This is a nice residential area, the buildings are well kept, their layers of history held at bay beneath fresh plaster and paint. Parked at their doorsteps are clean well kept motor boats, perfect for nipping out to pick up some groceries. Flowers spill from window boxes and their sweet scent perfumes the cooling air.
The sun sinks and night falls across the city. Old wrought iron lamps flicker into light, and Venice changes once more into her glittering shimmering evening dress. The reflections are deeper and more golden, and light falls in pools around steps and corners, while darkness swallows some streets and canals in inky silent blackness. Yet more surprises await us around each unforeseen corner.
Inside Venice is a study in mindfulness and letting go of certainty. Even with a map, instinct will serve you better as a guide than logic. You will come across so many unexpected delights that getting lost will be a pleasure. Wander freely knowing that every now and then there will be a small painted arrow, high on a corner, pointing the way back to St Marks Square.
See more posts and photos on this weeks theme of inside here.
See inside another Unesco world heritage site at Tinas post this week.
Click on any photo to see it in full resoloution, and all its glory 🙂